Blue Jays fail to sign No. 10 pick Phil Bickford

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When asked yesterday Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos told reporters that he didn’t expect to sign first-round pick Phil Bickford and sure enough the signing deadline just passed without the deal.

Bickford, a high school pitcher from California who went No. 10 overall, will instead head to college at Cal-State Fullerton. The slot recommended bonus for the 10th pick is $2.9 million, although it’s not clear what the Blue Jays actually offered Bickford. He was considered a “tough sign” going into the draft, so the Blue Jays knew what they were getting into.

They’ll also receive the No. 11 pick in next year’s draft as compensation for failing to sign him, so it’s hardly a disastrous scenario. It could be for Bickford, though, depending on how he pitches in college and whether he can stay healthy for the next few years. Recent history has not been very kind to pitchers who passed up big signing bonuses coming out of high school.

Giants nearing deal with Cameron Maybin

Cameron Maybin
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The Giants are finalizing a minor league deal for free agent outfielder Cameron Maybin, according to Andrew Baggarly and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The team has not confirmed the signing, but it’s in keeping with their stated goal of adding more veteran presence and outfield options to their roster in advance of the 2019 season.

Maybin, 31, appeared in back-to-back gigs with the Marlins and Mariners in 2018. He slashed an underwhelming .249/.326/.336 with four home runs, 10 stolen bases (in 15 chances), a .662 OPS, and 0.5 fWAR through 384 plate appearances for the two clubs, a clear improvement over his totals in 2017 but still shy of the career numbers he posted with the Padres all the way back in 2011. It’s not only his offense that has tanked, but his speed and defense in center field, all of which he’ll try to improve as he jockeys for a roster spot in camp this month.

The Giants’ outfield has been largely depleted of any kind of consistent talent lately, especially taking into account the recent departures of Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco, and Gorkys Hernández. Even with the acquisition of, say, All-Star right fielder Bryce Harper, there’s nothing standing in the way of Maybin and fellow veteran signee Gerardo Parra grabbing hold of full- or part-time roles this year, though they’ll need to outperform candidates like Chris Shaw, Steven Duggar, Drew Ferguson, Mac Williamson, Austin Slater, Craig Gentry, Mike Gerber, and others first.

In a previous report on Friday, Baggarly revealed that a “handshake understanding” had been established with several veteran players already this offseason, all but guaranteeing them regular starting opportunities over the course of the season. How those agreements will be affected by spring training performances remains to be seen, but at least for now, the Giants appear prepared to give their newest players a long leash as they try to get back on top in the NL West.